Norman Longmate was born in Berkshire, and educated at Christ's Hospital. After war service he read modern history at Worcester College, Oxford. He subsequently worked as a journalist in Fleet Street, as a producer of history programmes for the BBC, and for the BBC Secretariat. In 1981 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and in 1983 he left the BBC to become a full-time writer. He has written more than twenty books, mainly on the Second World War and on Victorian social history.